We now really step into a new section of John’s Gospel. We move from Galilee where our Lord has been ministering for over a year into Judea, where he started his ministry originally. What we’re going to see in John 7 and in John 8 is escalating hatred. In fact, you could almost call these two chapters an intense hatred of the Lord Jesus. Now Jesus has been away from Judea and from Jerusalem.
It was perhaps worse because reports have been coming back from spies in Galilee to the leaders of Judea about the impact of His ministry there. So their desire to have him murdered is stronger than ever. And while He’s been in Galilee, the fury has continued. But Jesus comes back secretly, and He stays out of Jerusalem for a number of months until He makes a grand entrance into Jerusalem.
Jesus with the crowd praising Him, declared to the masses that He is the Messiah. And by the end of the week, He is crucified and He has risen. So now you know where we are as we begin John 7. Let us read John 7:1- 13, “After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Booths.”
“3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! 4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! Show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. 6 Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. 7 The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil.”
“8 You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” 9 After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee. 10 But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. 11 The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. 12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds.”
Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” 13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.” So what was the popular opinion? What was the discussion? Some said He’s a good man. Some said He’s leading people stray, He’s a deceiver.
To say, “He’s a good man,” is not enough. That’s infinitely below the truth. To say He’s a deceiver is not true. Neither of these is a right assessment of Jesus, and every soul is required to make that assessment. You have to decide who Jesus is. Both of these statements are wrong. Deceivers don’t demonstrate the power of God, don’t raise people from the dead, and don’t speak the way Jesus spoke.
The right assessment of Jesus is the most important assessment any human being will ever make. Now we start to see the final decisions being made by the people under the influence of the leaders. These Jews have already made their decision. He’s a deceiver. And the people will eventually buy into that and cry for His death. So we start on that road now in John 7:1, high intensity hatred in Judea.
Those who left didn’t like the words of Jesus. Those who stayed embraced the words of Jesus. The distinguishing identification of Jesus is not His works. The false disciples embraced his works, they followed the crowd, they loved the supernatural, and they wanted to cash in on it. They were attracted to the miraculous. They even made many demands on Jesus’ miracle power.
But when Jesus began to speak, He immediately offended them, and they were alienated. So it’s always going to be the words of Jesus. There’s a lot of patronizing of Jesus as if he were a good man, better than other men, a noble, religious leader, a heroic, righteous moralist, and some kind of merciful, compassionate person. None of that matters. All of that falls way short of what He really is, He is God.
It’s always about the words. It’ll continue to be about the words, and that’s how it is in your life and mine. It isn’t enough to admire the human side of Jesus. By saying He is the flower of humanity. The greatest man that ever lived. The youth with God in His heart. And I’m talking about classic philosophical atheists. These are people who completely reject the Bible and reject God.
They will accept the Jesus of their own imagination, the sort of tolerable Jesus. What they will not accept is what the Bible records that He said, but that’s what has to be accepted because that’s dividing point. If you’re going to go into the kingdom of God, you have to believe what Jesus said. Now in John 7:1 - 13, we will go through a simple narrative text.
What I want you to see is how Jesus was operating on a divine timetable. Because you have to understand that Jesus is the Son of God. He is God incarnate. He is the bread who came down from heaven. This is the Son of God on a divine mission, and it plays out in a really wonderful way because you see the sovereignty of God operating in every aspect of His life from a time standpoint.
Everything in His life was on schedule. In Galatians 4:4, it says, “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His son made of a woman.” Perfect timing. First Timothy 6:15 says, “At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” And while Jesus is living His life, everything is on schedule.
Often Jesus says, “My time has not come.” He operated on this sovereign schedule. That comes out so powerfully here. Paul in Romans 5:6 says, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” 1 Timothy 2:6, says, “He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”
Now in John 7, Jesus is walking in Galilee about seven months later. Because in John 6:4, there was a Passover. In John 7:2, you have another feast, which is the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths, and that’s about seven months later. Passover is a spring event, and Feast of Tabernacles is an October event. So for seven months then, Jesus has been walking in Galilee.
John doesn’t tell us about those seven months, but the other writers do. The other gospel writers tell us that He has been in Galilee, not in Judea. But the attitude of the people in Judea that wanted to kill Him has continued to escalate. His Galilean ministry extended beyond a year. Jesus wouldn’t go back because He wanted to wait until it was the right time in God’s perfect plan.
During those seven months, we learn that Jesus for the most part disappeared from the public areas. Instead of remaining in Capernaum, He goes off to Tyre and Sidon, which is north and west over the Phoenician area towards the Mediterranean. Then He goes to the east side of the Sea of Galilee, south down into the area of Decapolis, which were these ten gentile cities. Mark 7 tells us about that.
Matthew 15 tells us about Jesus going into the area on the Phoenician border. He also went into the extreme north, so He is on the perimeter now. Many things happened during that time. Yes, He did do miracles in those places. But primarily He is teaching. Another great event occurred during those seven months, and that’s the transfiguration where Jesus revealed His glory.
And during those same months, Jesus told His disciples for the first time that He was going to be rejected and die, and then rise from the dead in Matthew 16. While the public ministry diminished during those seven months, His focus primarily was on the twelve. So this was the most intense period of training the disciples. The false disciples are gone. The true disciples except one stayed.
And Jesus now for seven months teaches them the truths concerning the kingdom of God, preparing them for what is to come and for even what is coming after that, which is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. He begins to talk now about His death and about His resurrection. He says He’ll be arrested, He’ll be beaten, and He will be spit on. He is telling them all the things that are to come.
And then Jesus gives them a necessary glimpse of His glory. Peter, James, and John then report all that. So they were told about His death. This is hard for them to understand and might create some doubt, so to balance all that, He shows them His glory. Now it’s time to go to the next feast. Now there were three main feasts among the Jews that all men had to attend, and He had done that all his life.
So in John 6, Jesus gave a couple of days to the crowd. And in between John 6 and 7, He gave seven months to the disciples. It is obvious that the priority for Jesus was discipleship. This is what God does. God gathers a crowd for the proclamation of the truth to declare who He is and why He has come. Jesus sorts out the true disciples and the false disciples, and then begins training of the true disciples.
That’s why the Great Commission says, “Go unto all the world and make all people My disciples.” That means teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. This is a extensive call. Easy to get a crowd. Very difficult to make a disciple. Jesus made it clear by His words what they needed to believe, so that He drove unbelievers away. Then He poured Himself into those who believed.
Discipleship is like 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 where Paul says to the church, “So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. 7 As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece.” Be followers of me as I am of Christ. We need depth, it is a heart issue.
Verse 3, “and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles!” These are His actual brothers who are named in Scripture. Verse 4- 5, “You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.” What was the Feast of Tabernacles?
In Leviticus 23, God instituted a feast in which annually they would remember their time in the wilderness, when they lived in tents, booths, shelters for a period of time. They had a weeklong celebration in October. Josephus says it was the most celebratory of all Jewish feasts and festivals. It was the happiest occasion. It was a week after the Day of Atonement.
His brothers are named in Matthew 13:55, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. Well why did they want Him to go?” Jesus maybe irritated them. How would you feel if you grew up with a person who was perfect, who gave every right answer to every question with the right attitude on every occasion? Jesus said in John 6, “You can’t believe unless the Father draws you.” The Father had not drawn them.
Verse 8-9, “You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come. 9 After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.” If Jesus had gone with them, He would have been a part of a huge caravan with His relatives and extended family. Because in Luke 2:44, when He was 12 years old, the whole caravan was one day’s journey before they realized He wasn’t there.
Then He explains in verse 6, “Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime.” When was His time? Six months later at the next Passover. That would be His time to become the Passover lamb. Every hour is determined by God. For you, it doesn’t matter. If you are an unbelievers, you have one appointment with God. At your death. The rest, you’re on your own.
It isn’t that God doesn’t order your behavior and your life. It’s just that it’s irrelevant. It’s purposeless. You go, you stay. As an unbeliever, you’re not operating on kingdom time. What a statement. You just have one appointment to keep with God at your death. That’s not the case with Me. Verse 7, “The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil.”
Not publicly, but somewhat in secret. Jesus did what they didn’t do. He went through Samaria according to Luke 9. When they would go, they would go around Samaria because they were hostile towards Samaritans. So they would do their little pilgrimage around Samaria. Jesus went right through it, Luke 9:51 to 57. He wouldn’t be going in the crowds that were flowing to Jerusalem.
The Jews were seeking Him at the feast. But they couldn’t find Him. Verse 13, no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. People were afraid to give an opinion. But they all knew that the Jews wanted Jesus dead. In those intervening months He ministers in Judea, and it’s all recorded in Luke 9 to 19. He refused to go to Jerusalem and declare Himself Messiah until the next Passover.
And that would be His last Passover leading to His murder. Nothing in His life is random. Nothing goes wrong. Everything is exactly according to God’s eternal purpose. This is one of the great evidences of His deity. And He confronted the Jews and told them their deeds are evil. We tend to shy away from the boldness that Christ had. But you will be held accountable for whatever you do with Christ. Let’s pray.